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LOCAL News :: Elections & Legislation : Protest Activity

Morton West Students Stage Walk-Out

About 300 Morton West High School Students in Suburban Berwyn, walked out of class at 9:00 am to protest immigration legislation in the U.S. Congress that threatens many of their families. Eleven were arrested.
Nearly a dozen students were arrested following a walk-out at Morton West High School in suburban Berwyn, this morning. About 300 students left school just after 9:00 am and marched east down Cermak Road on the sidewalk carrying flags of Mexico and the United States. The walk-out follows Monday's walk--out of students from Morton East's Freshman center and main campus. They were protesting the immigration bill in the U.S. Congress, HR 4437 that would criminalize illegal immigrants and those who give them any aid

With shouts of "Si se puede" (yes we can), the students broke through police car barricades at two corners along Cermak. When they reached Austin, the crowd turned south passing Morton East High School. Coaxing Morton East students to "walk with us," the West students rallied briefly outside the school and waved to supporters at the windows. Then they headed back toward Morton West along 26th Street.

A Morton West senior who would not give his name said, "Everyone's an immigrant, the white man, the black man, the Asian man the Hispanic man. Why can't we all coexist? We should have the right to be here too." Almost every student I spoke with could name a family member or relative who risks deportation as a felon under this legislation. Andres, a senior said the bill affects him personally. He said he wasn't born here and doesn't want to be sent back to Mexico. Guillermo carried a Mexican flag in honor of his people, "everyone in Mexico, everyone who's trying to have a better life, to have the American dream. Fidel, a Morton senior said he is marching not only for his father who came here to give him "the best life that he possibly can," this is for "everybody out in the fields working in California, Florida and Texas, this is for everybody."

Juan, a Morton West sophomore, kept instructing the crowd to stay on the sidewalk and don't run screaming, "We are not criminals." He said he is marching to honor the last statement in the pledge of allegiance, "one nation under God."

Bystanders cheered and passing cars and trucks honked in solidarity with the students. When they reached Home Street, one block from school, the young protesters were told by principal, Michael Meis that they could not return to school. He said they could retrieve their cars but were not allowed on school property. It is not clear whether the whole group could hear his remarks. After hesitating, the student group continued their march back to the school, this time, in the street and rallied in front of Morton West. All the gates to the school were locked and police presence was heavy drawing from Lyons, Stickney, Berwyn, Cicero and Forest Park. With nowhere else to go, the students entered Cermak Plaza and began crossing the parking lot. That is when the police gave a dispersal order through their loudspeakers. Hot and thirsty, students talked about going to McDonalds. But halfway through the plaza, police cars blocked off the crowd and began nabbing some student leaders. Berwyn Police report that of the 11 students arrested, 7 were minors and 4 were over the age of 17. The students did not resist arrest. Others fled the scene. The last remnants of the march disappeared minutes later by 11:15am. Those arrested have been released and are facing a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.



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